Learning a Speech

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, January 29, 1914:  Am learning a speech, sometimes I manage to say quite a bit, and then I get stuck.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm. . . Grandma apparently was going to give a speech at church. The previous day she wrote:

Ruth and I went up to town this evening. I am in some kind of a thing that’s to be given in the church. Went up to practice . . .

What was the topic? The minister at her church had recently left, and a new one had not yet been called. Maybe parishioners were trying to fill the gap.

The previous spring, back when Grandma was a high school senior, she was energized when she was in the class play, and when she was a graduation speaker. Hopefully this speech will be equally rewarding.

Here’s a few previous diary entries about how she felt about the play and the graduation speech:

Day of Class Play

. . . Our play went off pretty well, although we did make some slight mistakes. I cut quite a splash after I was all fixed up . . .

April 5, 1913

Working on Graduation Speech

And I have it all written now, but I got it most too long. I know the introduction so I don’t want that to be changed very much.

April 18, 1913

Graduation Day

. . . At last I arrived at the church. We marched in and so on up to the front of the church, where we took seats in uncomfortable chairs and managed to sit out the evening. I recited my essay without a mental breakdown and then at last all was over, after which came congratulations and well wishes. . . .

April 23, 1913

16 Responses

  1. Ooh, I remember having to speak (oral book reports, parts in plays, etc.) and how nervous I was! But…Grandma does have some experience.

  2. Way to go Helena! Would you believe I enjoy public speaking? I know, weird eh?

  3. Oh how I dread any kind of public speaking. Grandma doesn’t seem to mind so much though. :)

  4. Learning a speech or poem can be a challenge. I guess delivering a public talk never bothered me much. I got lots of practice in the classroom as a teacher. We talk all the time. :-)

  5. I remember having to give a speech in high school and when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. How humiliating. Later in life I attended Toastmasters International in order to learn the art of public speaking. Now something comes out when I speak. Whew!!

    • Your high school experience sounds awful. It sounds like Toastmasters worked well for you. I’ve heard wonderful things from many people about Toastmasters.

  6. Public speaking has always given me the jitters :) love this blog.

  7. Sounds like Helena actually loved public speaking/acting. I wonder if she ever used those skills later in her life.

  8. […] to practice it. She wrote about going to a practice on January 28, and about learning the speech on January 29. Maybe Grandma and “the girls” were also singing or doing a skit since several practices were […]

  9. As a teen, I was very fearful of speaking in front of people. I’m a lot better now but kudos to those girls for being so brave.

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